15 Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 18, 2022 | Published June 21, 2021

Updated September 18, 2022

Published June 21, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Receptionists work at an organization's front desk, so they're the first point of contact with and act as the face of the business. All guests will go through the receptionist's office, including employees, clients, customers, and other stakeholders. Employers want to find a candidate who is responsible, organized, calm, welcoming, and friendly. In this article, we cover 15 common receptionist interview questions and answer to help you prepare.

15 Receptionist interview questions and sample answers

Here are several common questions to prepare for before an interview for a role as a receptionist:

1. How does the receptionist influence the office culture?

A receptionist plays an essential role in the organization's culture. Employers want to see if you understand the importance of the position you're applying for and if you have any good ideas to contribute to a positive organizational culture.

Example: “As a receptionist, I'm the first person people meet when they enter an office. It is important that I understand and represent the company's values and culture in every interaction. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to welcoming the members of my team when they arrive in the morning. It creates a positive environment and inclusive company culture.”

Related: Work Ethic and Success in the Workplace

2. Do you have experience managing customer complaints?

Receptionists need to manage customer concerns and sometimes encounter complaints. Employers want to know that you have the ability and confidence to address issues and provide excellent customer service. To answer this question effectively, provide an example of a customer complaint you managed well in a previous role.

Example: “I once managed a customer who came to the reception desk shouting. I remained calm while I listened to his concerns and maintained an even tone when responding to avoid escalating the issue. He was demanding to speak to an executive who was unavailable at the time. I asked him to leave his details and assured him they would call him back. He obliged, and I notified the executive, who followed up on the issue. Remaining calm and polite in these situations is key to providing good customer service."

3. How would you respond to a caller who asks to speak to someone unavailable?

The question tests your skills for managing people. Employers want to know if you're confident on the phone and if you have organizational and time management skills to reschedule calls.

Example: "If a customer called looking for someone who was unavailable, I would provide them with options. Either I could take their details and notify the person they're trying to reach and request they call them back. Or, I would advise a time for them to call back when the person they're trying to reach is likely to be available. If they're calling to contact someone whose schedule I manage, I would schedule a time during an open slot to return their call."

4. How do you prioritize tasks as you manage office workflows?

With this question, the employer wants to know if you're good at time management, multitasking, and prioritizing tasks. You can leverage your experience to explain how you handle multiple priorities.

Example: "I understand that multitasking is part of a receptionist's job. For example, I may be on call and need to sign to receive a delivery at the same time. However, I always prioritize the needs of the customers and give them my full attention."

Related: Time Management Skills: Examples and Definitions

5. What type of software do you have experience using?

Organizations use computer systems for various types of operations. The employer wants to know what software you have experience using and if you're familiar with the common industry software. They also want to know if you're willing to use new or unfamiliar software.

Example: "My experience as a receptionist has made me proficient with the Microsoft Office suite. I can also use Google applications like Google Docs and Sheets, calendaring software and several instant message platforms like Slack."

6. How many employees did your last office have?

Employers want to know the kind of environment candidates have experience in. They'll compare your experience to their unique work environment to assess whether you're a good fit. Explain that you're comfortable working in both large and small work environments, and include your preference if applicable.

Example: "I started working in an office space of 10 employees, and it was certainly easier to manage the responsibilities and work relations. After that, I started at my last job which had 50 employees in the office. It was a bit challenging at first, but I enjoy working with an extensive and diverse team. I'm now comfortable working in both small and large work environments."

7. How do you coordinate group meetings?

Receptionists organize group meetings like interdepartmental and monthly report meetings. Employers look for candidates with organization, time management, and communication skills. You can incorporate your experience into the answer and mention using modern communication tools and software.

Example: "Once the meeting comes up on the schedule, I'll send out a group notification for the meeting details. I'll distribute the memo or send an email. I then ensure everything at the venue is functional such as the internet connection and screen mirroring. I also communicate any adjustments to the meeting details as needed."

Related: Leadership Skills: Definitions and Examples

8. How do you stay productive during slow periods?

There may be periods of downtime at the office. You can use this time to focus on getting ahead of schedule and complete low priority responsibilities. You can also reorganize your space, files, and processes to improve efficiency.

Example: "Whenever I have downtime, I check on tasks like emails I've flagged as low priority. I'll also assess the tasks ahead and schedule early delivery if possible. I also rearrange appointments and improve the filing system. I love cleaning and maintaining an organized work environment. So if I have a lot of downtime, I reorganize the storage closet and check on the office stationery stock."

Related: Interview Question: "What Motivates You?" (with Examples)

9. How would you respond to a client if you didn't know the answer to their question?

The question tests your communication, customer service, and teamwork skills. Employers also want to know that you have respect for the other team members' and value their expertise.

Example: "When I don't have the answer to a client's question, I'll ask that they wait as I seek an answer from someone on my team. If I expect the response to take some time, I offer to call them instead of asking them to wait. Depending on the complexity of the response, I relay the message myself or ask my colleague to speak with the client directly to provide a detailed answer."

10. Do you have experience using a multiple-line phone system?

This is a straightforward yes or no question. Derive your answer from experience and show a willingness to learn if you do not have the experience.

Example: "Yes, I have experience using a phone system with four separate lines at my previous job. I'm very organized and can keep a running mental priority list of which call is next in the queue." or, "No, I've not used a multiple-line phone system before. However, I'm a very fast learner and have excellent multitasking skills, so I'm confident I could learn quickly."

11. What qualities does a receptionist need?

Employers use this question to evaluate what you believe your greatest strengths are as a receptionist. Your answer also provides insight into whether you'd fit in with the company's culture. Discuss some qualities that are essential for receptionists and focus on how you can bring those skills to the role.

Example: "A receptionist needs good organizational skills, making them highly resourceful to their coworkers and the business in general. It is also important to have a positive and friendly attitude at all times to create a positive and welcoming culture in the business."

Related: A Guide to Soft Skills

12. How is your typing speed and attention to detail?

Receptionists need to type fast and accurately to keep up with the workflow. Employers usually prefer a confident and experienced typist with a speed of at least 60 words per minute. They also like to see candidates with strong attention to detail and commitment to accuracy.

Example: "I'm a fast typist thanks to lessons I took in high school. My average typing speed is 80 words per minute without significant typos. However, I always proofread my work to ensure there are no errors."

13. How do you manage confidential information?

Receptionists have access to confidential information for both clients and the business. Such information can include addresses, social security numbers, and credit card numbers. Employers want reassurance that you acknowledge the sensitivity and are confident about maintaining information privacy even when people press you for it.

Example: "I'm always sensitive when dealing with private information. For example, I never share information without authorization. I'm always aware of my environment, especially when making sensitive calls. Also, I take cybersecurity measures seriously by securing my devices with strong passwords and two-step verification."

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